Oakland has no shortage of quality Ethiopian restaurants, but I usually find myself going to the same one and over again. When a friend suggested I try something new for dinner, we decided to go to Asmara, her favorite Ethiopian restaurant.

Located in Oakland’s Temescal district, Asmara is casual and cozy, with warm service. My friend and I were hungry, so we quickly ordered our meal. I’m a fan of tibs/tebsy (strips of marinated beef cooked in berbere sauce) just as much as the next meat-loving girl, but I was craving something lighter so I opted for the vegetarian combination.

Yemisir wat, kik alicha, and gomen alicha

My meal included yemissir wat (lentil stew cooked with berbere sauce), kik alicha (split peas cooked with spices), and ye-gomen alicha (mustard greens cooked with spices). This was served alongside a green salad, stewed potatoes and injera bread (oh glorious, tangy, spongy injera). The split peas were my favorite, but the best part was being able to sample all of the complexly flavored dishes at once. My “light” meal ended up not being so light after all, and I couldn’t finish my plate.

I’m glad I branched outside of my go-to Ethopian restaurant, and Asmara didn’t disappoint. Next time, I’m going for the tibs.

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